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The Mines of Arcadia

My grandfather was an explorer too. Many years ago he stumbled upon a level of Arcadia that seemed bigger than the others he’d seen. It had a mountain, and under that mountain were mines. Many Arcadians worked those mines, plundering the spoils the mountain had to offer to please those at the very top. In the hunt for ores, a dozen of those in the mine encountered a cave-in and became trapped.

My grandfather tried to help those that were trapped but the land was inhospitable, and any help seemed to drop more rubble down into the mines. So he waited, until the distant cries for help stopped. The cries for help were soon replaced by much different cries. One night, after heavy rainfall, the rubble fell into a different area in the mines and they became accessible again. My grandfather was one of the last ditch rescue party attempting to rescue anyone who might have survived, though it had been many days and the chances were slim.

When he returned to me, at home, and told me this story, here he would often find an excuse to do anything else. It was only when I became a man myself that he trusted I was able to understand the gravity of what he said he experienced.

When they went down into the mines, they found 11 of the bodies, all in the early stages of decay, and all incomplete, with limbs or chunks of their torso rent from the body, torn away by what looked to be a sharp implement. The search party began to gather the remains of those who had passed, so the families could grieve them properly, but before they could retreat from the cave, they heard a terrifying shriek.

Out of the shadows stepped what my grandfather could only describe as a real life monster. A pale, emaciated, gangly human-like creature, it’s skin taut and tearing, it’s every bone jutting out at an angle. It’s teeth were long and sharp, and it’s eyes were blocks of milky white, as if it’s very core were ice. The creature was unclothed, save for what appeared to be human underwear, and it was only then that one of the search party recognised a birthmark on the creature.

That this creature could have been someone they thought a friend stunned the group into silence, until the thing leapt at them and began to tear their limbs from them with ease. Only when all but two of the search party were dead, was the last remaining peer of my grandfather able to lance it through the skull with a long spear. It dropped dead instantly, but as it did, an icy blast in the shape of a face spread toward the two. My grandfather backed away in time, but the other rescuer was not so lucky. Right in front of my grandfather’s eyes, he started to change. His bones lengthened. His hair fell out. His teeth became sharp and his eyes glazed over.

My grandfather ran from that place, but whatever he saw has followed him in his nightmares ever since.